|Brandon Hodge Contributor|
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Mr. Hodge, I find the idea of the Lantern Man (from the Bridgefront Gazetteer) really compelling. I'm happy fleshing him out myself, but thought I'd see if you had any thoughts or ideas about him.
I'm a fan of the Lantern Man myself, and after many months of campaigning in my home game (which takes place in the aftermath of HoHS, which my group playtested, though the sequel started fresh with new characters at 1st level), he's set to return to the stage any session now. So here's hoping my players aren't reading...
The Lantern Man is Old Korvosa's most thorough--and most secretive--source of information. Although not particularly powerful in the traditional sense (see below), he has used his unique method of gathering information to assume this near-omniscient mantle of the ultimate information broker. He developed the divination spell that allows him to see through flames lit from a target pyre late in life, and weaved through the political structure of Korvosa to eventually manipulate the Arkona family into sponsoring the civic project to install street lamps in Bridgefront as a way to improve the quality of life for the poor citizens there. With the fall of the family (see Curse of the Crimson Throne), he was in a perfect political position to take over the infrastructure he had caused to be created, and steered it toward a private enterprise which he exclusively controls.
I don't have my laptop handy to reference the spell, which didn't make the cut into HoHS because I wound up diminishing his original role, but you cast it on a fire, and gain the ability to scry through it to see everything in a 10-ft radius through any other flame lit from the target fire. With multiple nightly castings, the Lantern Man can essentially spend his evenings staring at the source fire and shuffling through various visions taking place on the streets of Bridefront, as well as any homes of citizens that light their fires by his street lanterns. His Lamplighters, too, are well-compensated and exceedingly loyal young street rats taught to strategically light the lanterns and encourage citizens to light their fires from them, in what seems an overt act of generosity that is really nothing more than another mode of infiltration for the information-hungry Lantern Man.
In this way, he has grown exceedingly wealthy through blackmail, extortion, and information brokering. But it hasn't bought him improved eyesight--he is near blind from his efforts--nor has it improved his health or reversed the effects of his extremely advanced age. Though shrouded in material luxury in his concealed estate, his form is cripple, sickly, and exceedingly frail. His disposition reflects his resentment to being confined near-immobile within his residence, and he is sour and bitter at not being able to truly enjoy the fruits of his clever enterprise, which makes him a hard bargainer and shrewd negotiator that doesn't care for the money, but rather the power it gives him over those seeking his aid that he resents for their mere ability to walk, love, and see unhindered.
He is best used in a campaign as a last-resort, desperate effort to fill in any information gaps your PCs have faced. If they become stuck on a mystery or missed a vital clue, the Lantern Man can provide the information they missed, but at a steep price. It essentially gives an option for PCs to buy their way toward a solution if they have exhausted all other efforts where it doesn't make sense to otherwise backtrack to give them what they need to move forward. I leave the payment terms vague on purpose, because it should be adjusted for each group. Just make sure the payment is about more than money, and personally affects a PC in some way with a high collateral cost that makes the decision to get the information a difficult one.
That's how I use him! Feel free to ask further questions!